History of Sega in France

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History of Sega in France
Official Sega distributor(s): ITMC (198x-198x), Master Games Systeme France (1987-1988), Virgin Loisirs (1988-1991), Sega France (1991-2001), Big Ben Interactive (2001-2005), Sega France (2005-2012), Koch Media (2012-present)

In the 70s France was one of the countries where Sega imported its game machines.[1]

ITMC distributed the SC-3000 in France under their Yeno brand.

In September 1987, Master Games Systeme France released the Sega Master System in France. The company promoted console as a arcade game room in home which was not a bad idea but the problem was with the slogans that were too long and illogical[2]. The other problem was that Sega delivered Master System too late for Christmas which resulted in cancel of orders by retailers. MGSF got into financial crisis and contract was lost in 1988[3].

Sega gave license to Mastertronic which successfully distributed Master System in UK and created Virgin Loisirs[4]. Master System sells were small compare to NES and Virgin sold at the beginning only few units. Sega began to advertise system with "Sois sympa, branche-moi sur une Sega" which slowly convince gamers to the system. Mega Drive was released in 1990 and Sega launched a new agressive marketing campaign called Maître Sega with slogan "C'est plus fort que toi" which quickly became classic and increased sales of Sega hardwares. Even Master System increased from 30 000 units to 300 000 units[5] and Mega Drive became leader of the market, even after releasing of Super Nintendo. Virgin's European Sega distribution business including France was bought out by Sega in late 1991, with the new company named Sega France.

In 1992, Sega absorbed French coin-operated machine distributors WDK as part of an attempt to establish a stronger official European arcade presence.[6] Their co-operation allowed the company to have an officially-supplied arcade at Festival Disney in Disneyland Paris into the 2000s, as well as the later Centre Sega arcades in co-operation with La Tete Dans Les Nuages until 1999.

Mega CD II and Mega Drive 32X was advertise with "Canal Sega" adverts but "C'est plus fort que toi" was still used. In January 1996, TCI's technology group got the rights to distribute Sega Channel in France. The distributor was planned to be Multithematiques S.A, however it is not clear as to if this happened.[7]Sega Saturn wasn't as successful as Mega Drive and had big pression from Playstation.

Dreamcast was released in the same time as rest of Europe, with France as on of the key markets. Before that importers brought Japanese version and sold around 6,000 units until June 1999[8]. Dreamcast internet was supposed to be carried on by Cegetel.[9] Sega brand had good reputation in France, but bad image. Market managers thought about using "C'est plus fort que toi" slogan again, but the idea was dropped because managers decided that Dreamcast has other standards than Mega Drive.[10]

In 2001, after the break in Dreamcast production, Sega Europe closed its branch in France. Big Ben Interactive were subsequently chosen as a distributor until 2005.[11] Following further restructuring in 2012, Sega Europe closed down its French operations for a second time, handing over distribution to Koch Media.[12]


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